Towards systematic, data-driven validation of a collaborative, multi-scale model of Caenorhabditis elegans

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018 Sep 10;373(1758):20170381. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0381.


The OpenWorm Project is an international open-source collaboration to create a multi-scale model of the organism Caenorhabditis elegans At each scale, including subcellular, cellular, network and behaviour, this project employs one or more computational models that aim to recapitulate the corresponding biological system at that scale. This requires that the simulated behaviour of each model be compared with experimental data both as the model is continuously refined and as new experimental data become available. Here we report the use of SciUnit, a software framework for model validation, to attempt to achieve these goals. During project development, each model is continuously subjected to data-driven 'unit tests' that quantitatively summarize model-data agreement, identifying modelling progress and highlighting particular aspects of each model that fail to adequately reproduce known features of the biological organism and its components. This workflow is publicly visible via both GitHub and a web application and accepts community contributions to ensure that modelling goals are transparent and well-informed.This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Connectome to behaviour: modelling C. elegans at cellular resolution'.

Keywords: Python; informatics; modelling; unit-testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Models, Biological
  • Software*